Indigenous Australian is an inspiration to new UQ graduates
On Dec. 9, 2013, 245 students graduated from the University of Queensland Gatton campus, and they were in the presence of a graduated great.
Dr Noel Hayman, a champion of improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, received the Gatton Gold Medal at the students’ graduation ceremony for his many successes since his own graduation from UQ.
The UQ Gatton Gold Medal is awarded each year to a past student who has made an outstanding contribution in his or her field.
“It was my science background from my time at Gatton that allowed me to enter the UQ medicine program,” Dr Hayman said.
“It was this foundation that led me to my career in Indigenous health. So to win the Gatton Gold Medal is a huge honour and is a tribute to the beginning of my tertiary education.”
Dr Hayman graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science, majoring in Food Technology in 1979 from the Queensland Agricultural College (which became the UQ Gatton Campus).
His career took a different path when he learned that the University of Queensland’s then Dean of Medicine was keen for Aboriginal people with science degrees to consider studying medicine.
In 1990 he was one of the first Indigenous Australians to graduate from UQ with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. In 1997, he graduated again from UQ with a Master in Public Health. Despite the career shift, he often drew on his earlier studies at Gatton to fulfill his public health responsibilities.
“My background in microbiology has proven valuable for dealing with outbreaks of food poisoning; and knowledge about nutrition has guided my focus on treating diabetes, one of the most prevalent diseases affecting Indigenous people,” he said.
Dr Hayman is addressing the gap that exists between the life expectancy of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians head-on in his role as Clinical Director of Inala Indigenous Health Service, which he helped establish in 1995.
He also heads the Southern Queensland Centre of Excellence in Indigenous Primary Health Care, which he helped establish in 2013, to enhance the capacity of the Inala service.
More than 7,000 students graduated from UQ from December 6 to 17, with 21 ceremonies at the St Lucia, Ipswich and Gatton campuses.
The year 2013 marked 100 years of graduates at UQ since the first degrees were awarded in 1913. Queensland’s largest university has graduated more than 205,000 students, and has a proud cohort of alumni who have gone on to make their mark in more than 150 countries.